Shinzo Abe raise eyebrows on Thursday by breaking away from a 20-year tradition of Japanese prime ministers expressing remorse over their country's wartime aggression and pledging not to let it happen again when they mark the end of World War II.
Speaking on the 68th anniversary of the Japan's surrender in World War II, Abe instead highlighted the "sacrifices" of Japanese soldiers.
Since Morihiro Hosokawa in 1993, all Japanese prime ministers have included acknowledgement of the damage and pain Japan inflicted on countries in Asia and their peoples, and promised that Japan would never engage in a war, in their annual war memorial speech on Aug. 15. During his first stint as prime minister n 2007, Abe did the same.
But amid a seismic lurch to the far right in his second term, Abe apparently decided that there has been enough remorse. "I am speaking on behalf of the government for the spirits of those who fell in the war while thinking of their country and families. I never forget for even a single moment that current peace and prosperity was built on their sacrifices," said Abe.
Abe also wants to revise a statement by former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama statement in 1995 that acknowledged and apologized for Japan's atrocities.
However, he abstained from a visit to the militarist Yasukuni Shrine, where class A war criminals are also being honored among the country's fallen, but sent an aide with a ritual offering.